Faith In Objects: American Missionary Expositions In The Early Twentieth Century

Hardcover | October 15, 2011

byErin L. Hasinoff

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In the early twentieth century, missionary expositions were a central event in the religious life of many Americans. They also converged with the research agenda of anthropology, which was then defined by museum work. This thoughtfully researched book brings the untold history of the World in Boston of 1911 to light. Extraordinary in terms of content, geographic scope, and attendance, “America’s First Great Missionary Exposition” was conceived on the model of world’s fairs, and grew out of an established tradition of missionary exhibitions. This compelling history reveals how the material culture of missions shaped domestic interactions with evangelism, Christianity, and the consumption of ethnological knowledge.

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In the early twentieth century, missionary expositions were a central event in the religious life of many Americans. They also converged with the research agenda of anthropology, which was then defined by museum work. This thoughtfully researched book brings the untold history of the World in Boston of 1911 to light. Extraordinary in t...

Erin L. Hasinoff is a fellow in Museum Anthropology at Bard Graduate Center and in the Division of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

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Kobo ebook|Jun 15 2015

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:286 pages, 8.68 × 5.69 × 0.85 inPublished:October 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230116728

ISBN - 13:9780230116726

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Table of Contents

PART I: PRELIMINARIES * Antecedents * PART II: THE WORLD IN BOSTON OF 1911 * Setting the Stage * First Impressions * PART III: PEDAGOGICAL ARCHITECTURE * Object Lessons * Spiritless Pleasures * PART IV: THE MISSIONARY EXHIBIT OF 1900 * An Established Tradition * Missionary Engagements * Objects of Missionary Education * PART V: STEWARDSHIP * Scripted Parts * Life-Long Lessons * Epilogue

Editorial Reviews

"Thorough, balanced, theoretically informed, and gracefully written. The strength of the study is the wonderful way in which the author takes complex anthropological issues and lucidly demonstrates their relevance for the understanding of this important exhibition. The book will expand a very small literature, making an enormous and thoroughly original contribution."--David Morgan, professor of Religion, Duke University  "Published on the centennial of the World in Boston, this fascinating and well written account reveals the hidden story of an important collection and its complex exhibition history. This book is a major contribution to the study of museums, expositions, and religions in early twentieth-century America. From it, we learn that these seemingly diverse arenas shared more in common than we have ever realized."--Ira Jacknis, professor, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC Berkeley"Hasinoff resurrects a little known form of display, the early twentieth-century missionary exhibition, which was designed to enliven domestic interest in and support for 'missionization' through showcasing objects which missionaries in the field collected as proof of their intervention. These exhibitions, with their 'evangelizing effects' had a profound impact on the image of the 'Other' in the popular imagination as well as the development of 'properly' ethnological collections, and thus the history of anthropology. Hasinoff is to be commended for bringing the afterlife of these singularly interesting artifacts – or 'Christian attractions'--to light. This book is vital reading for students of material culture, religious studies, anthropology, and the new museology."--David Howes, professor of Anthropology, Concordia University and editor of The Varieties of Sensory Experience, Cross-Cultural Consumption, among other works "Hasinoff explores the links between religious faith and a desire for objects and collections. Her book is unique in its consideration both of the missionaries and those they attempted to convert. The result is a rich and compelling exploration of the complicated nature of religion, colonialism, and local responses."--Chris Gosdon, Chair of European Archaeology, University of Oxford